"On the other hand, I think we should be skeptic..."


by Benjamin Hoffman Jan 16 2017 updated Jan 16 2017

On the other hand, I think we should be skeptical of these estimates. ACE has a history of biasing its public info towards creating the impression that animal charities are more cost- effective than they likely are. If this leads to people reallocating their money towards net-worse things, your dollars given to ACE could easily cause net harm relative to setting the dollars on fire. This isn't obviously the case for an animal charity like CiWF, and perhaps most of ACE's research is better, or ACE will do better in the future. But, I don't have strong reason to think they're unusually trustworthy relative to other organizations marketing to my demographic.

As far as I know, ACE's recommended orgs are actually fairly good, so perhaps ACE is net positive just by raising their profile - but, given that a fair amount of my positive impression comes from ACE and people strongly influenced by ACE, it's unclear to me how reliable that impression is.

Bollard works for an organization that has repeatedly cautioned us not to take its expected value estimates literally. I'm not sure how we are supposed to take them, but it seems like a mistake to go ahead and take them literally anyway despite the ample disclaimers against exactly this use.